In the Immortal Words of Kenny Loggins – THIS IS IT…

First Trax

This is the official final day of the 2012-2013 ski and snowboarding season. Cataloochee Ski Area and Sugar Mountain Resort got the season started back on Halloween Day, October 31st, 2012 and Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia will end it for us. Several ski areas opened a little later and closed a bit earlier, but together those three ski areas created a very successful (and lengthy) 159 day season for the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski region.

In case you're into these kinds of things, that is a ski and snowboarding season that provided us the opportunity to ski and ride during SEVEN MONTHS of the calendar. The season was a full FIVE MONTHS and EIGHT DAYS long! TWENTY-TWO WEEKS and FIVE DAYS!

I could break things down to hours, minutes and seconds but then we could not have ridden the snow during all of those minutes and seconds and you'd also know that I'm sitting here toying with an online date/time calculator instead of composing my last or next-to-last story of the season.

From what I understand Kenny or Tonette kind of summed up the season a few days ago so there's no need to repeat their good work. So I'll leave you guys and gals with this bit of closing comments.


Every season I say much the same thing in terms of "wishing that I had spent more time on the snow". That is truer than ever this season, but since I am the one that has the control to make that happen and didn't, I won't include that in my own personal rant (although I kind of just did).

Since I'm NOT mentioning the desire to be on the snow more, I also won't mention the rant against myself to ski at MORE of the region's ski areas within the same calendar year. We have so many great ski areas that it would be a bit of a challenge to ride at every ski resort within our coverage area every season, but a cool one to achieve. This year I would have come woefully short. So that's another rant on myself that I won't mention again this year.

We always heap as much praise on the snow makers and snow groomers of our of region as we can each and every season – however THIS season those guys get some HUGE RAVE REVIEWS since often on Wednesdays this season there were some pretty iffy conditions on the mountains of our region. That was particularly the case from November through January this season when ONE DAY of cold temps was all that they needed to make enough snow to groom the slopes into a weekend wonderland for visitors. KUDOS to them.

RAVES go to the marketing teams at MANY ski areas this season for dropping ticket pricing and especially season pass pricing to a point that made it nearly impossible to say "no" to.

I suppose that it goes without saying that the "Best Lift Ticket Discount for the Southeast and Mid Atlantic for the 2013-2014 season" would go to Snowshoe Mountain with their $199 deal that covered not only all of March and this week in April this season but all of NEXT SEASON as well!  Compare THAT season pass pricing to Sugar Mountain Resort's $720. (I guess that was a rant.)

RAVES go out to all of the ski areas who worked us this season to add new, streaming webcams that we featured on There is nothing like being able to witness the conditions first-hand via these new, high-rez systems. They've been a HUGE hit. Since I'm talking about the cameras, RAVES go to Kenny Griffin who acts as our company IT guy for working with our resources to provide what I really think might be THE BEST network of LIVE CAMS out there. There may be a network that has more cams,  but not one that has a better display of live cams, especially covering a region that I give a flip about.

RAVES go out to Tonette Fisk this season who took the challenge that I asked of her to be more of a point person for us. We've asked that of a few people before her and she really stepped things up for us this season. She wears a LOT of other hats for us as a company and she wore this particular one better than anyone before her. Thanks Tonette!

RAVES to Joe Stevens, Herb Stevens and Brad Panovich. Joe Stevens hung in there with us and posted 18 weeks worth of columns this season. This season was his eighth with us serving as a featured columnist. As you said, Joe, "Thanks for the ride again this season."

Joe also wears a lot of hats working as a media consultant and provider with his The Media Center in Charleston, West Virginia. If you own a business or you yourself ever need a story told via the media, Joe Stevens is your man. Visit his website at

Joe also serves as the official spokesperson of the West Virginia Ski Association as well as a loving, full time, top-priority-providing father of Christian Stevens (his son) and husband of Angie Stevens.

Herb Stevens is known as THE SKIING WEATHERMAN and is listed as one of the "notable alumni" of THE WEATHER CHANNEL. Herb was one of the original meteorologists at The Weather Channel and founder of Grass Roots Weather and he too wears a ton of hats while providing weather content for several New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania based television and online news sources. Herb contributed weekly weather content this season both for The West Virginia Ski Areas Association and by extension

I think it's kind of cool that if you Google "Herb Stevens" the first ski or weather reference you get is

RAVES to Brad Panovich again this season. If you Google "Brad Panovich" Google will begin showing you that he is p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y THE MOST web-savvy, social media savvy, hardest working internet and television media weather guy on the planet. I really don't think that there's much of an exaggeration there. Google "Brad Panovich" and Google will begin by directing you to his WXBrad blog, YouTube Channel, LinkedIn, Google+ account and Twitter following and THEN comes! Brad has 16,695 people who follow him on Twitter and of course he has tens of thousands of you who checked out his twice-a-week video weather updates this season on

KUDOS to Brad for getting the snowy weather, back-loaded-weather season, big storms forecasted this season well before others would join in. Nobody knows the weather of our Southeast and Mid Atlantic region better than Brad. Thanks again Brad!

HUGE RAVES go out to EACH and EVERY Virginia and Tennessee ski area this season. Bryce, The Homestead, Massanutten and Wintergreen resorts in Virginia AND Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee definately did the most with the least cooperative weather within the region this season and the all had very successful skier visit seasons for their efforts.

Wintergreen Resort just ended their season on Saturday, April 6th, but all of the VA and TN ski resorts really did well with much less in the way of cold temps and natural snowfall than resorts north and south of them.

RAVES to Lynn Swann, Eileen Judah and Matt Fussell of The Homestead Resort in Virginia this season for jumping in with all six feet to provide us with a wealth of "what's happening" at the popular Virginia resort. We asked them to help us spread the message of just how great that four-season resort is and boy did they!

RAVES to Travis Roberts of Winterplace Resort who despite the fact that we never had a system or plan in place this season to represent Winterplace – STILL got us weekly photos and videos and kept the news coming in a HUGE way. Kudos to Travis!


You know I really only have ONE REAL RANT this season…and one very small "mini-rant" to share. The mini-rant is aimed at Sugar Mountain this season which consistently over-reported natural snowfalls. Some might think that I'm complaining about much of nothing, but there really is something not-so-right about consistently reporting much more snow than actually fell during each snowfall. Case in point is the fact that we recorded 104.6" of snowfall this season for the popular, worthy-of-your-business resort – while they reported 120" on the season.

It may not have looked like much when they'd report 12" when 9" fell during a snow storm, but in the end, it's whacked. A bit of a RANT should be shared with Dr. Ray Russell of Ray's Weather who reported Sugar's errant snowfall totals all season long and yet called Beech Mountain Resort's snowfall 104.9".

Actually Beech Mountain HAS an official reporting station (whereas Sugar doesn't) and Beech actually saw 114.5" of natural snowfall this season compared to Sugar's 104.6".

I'm not sure if things changed up at Sugar as to who was handling this task this season, but they just went haywire this season when over the previous several seasons they were pretty "spot on". Hopefully they get that fixed for next season.


…would HAVE to be aimed at Wolf Ridge Resort in Mars Hill, NC which was reporting or allowing others to report that the resort was "Under New Ownership", "Not just a ski resort anymore", "Open Year Round", "Under new MANAGEMENT", etc, etc, etc – when NONE of the above was true.

I'd have to add owner, Orville English to that rant because of his two-minute, one-sided phone threat to me personally when he called and just stated that I needed to stop posting information about HIS ski area when ALL we were doing was reporting what he was allowing others who worked for him to post via In fact, they are still posting information that, according to Mr. English, isn't true over on that states, "The NEW Wolf Ridge is not just a ski resort anymore and will now be open year round. In addition to skiing, snowboarding, and winter activities, the NEW Wolf now offers whitewater rafting, horseback riding, camping, fishing, mountain biking and much much more! Check our Summer Page for more information."

Right there on their front page it says, "New Mountain, New Management, New Experience" and yet as far as anybody else is concerned there was nothing new about the mountain, the management OR the experience at Wolf Ridge this season. They were the last resort to open this season and hinted that they would be open one more week and then pulled the plug actually on the same day that Sapphire Valley did this season…making Wolf's season the shortest of all of the ski areas in the region. There wasn't really a close second. Additionally, their "new experience" provided a mountain that was never even close to 50% open throughout the entire season. Of "the entire season" was a very short one which is probably why so few people opt for their season pass.

Wolf Ridge Resort could do themselves a HUGE favor and revert back to the trail count that they had prior to a few seasons ago when they showed that the mountain included 14 trails instead of the 22 that they now claim. At least the eight trails that they had open most of this season would have them over 50% open.

By the way, I am not the only person frustrated by Wolf Ridge's false promises of a new experience. All you have to do is check out their Facebook and/or Trip Advisor comments to see how upset Wolf Ridge fans are. Wolf is one of those resorts that could be SO MUCH MORE and yet have gone downhill in a huge way over the last few seasons. Mr. English had a tough season – season before last – but this season there were at least three occasions wherein they had great snowfall and plenty of good conditions that they could have been open for and opted not to open – further alienating their fan base.

It's painfully obvious that Mr. English would love to sell the ski area and there's no "sin" in that. He's ran a successful ski area for many years and it is to his credit that he took a real gamble in ramping up the resort as a real estate resort just prior to the economic crash of 2008-2009. He can't be blamed for bad timing, but instead of embracing and using the media to get a better message out, he actually has allowed far too many unqualified personell to put out an inconsistent message that has left their longtime fans and friends saying, "Here we go again."

Hopefully they can regain the reins of who is saying what over there; which website is legit ( or; are they under new ownership, management; and just get the ship righted.

Of course simply making and grooming snow and opening early and closing later would go a LONG WAY to rekindling their fans.


That will put a wrap on this season for me personally. I hope this summer and fall are wonderful for all of you. Get out and enjoy the summer and autumn activities that our beautiful mountains offer. Whether it is whitewater rafting, golf, tennis, hiking, or biking…just get out!

Email me if ya like at [email protected]

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